Opinion: Only half the story is being told, says Stockholm resident
I read with interest the story about the Potsdam Central students electing to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ day and the comments that followed. However, only half the story is being told.
While I am not defending Columbus or some of the other European explorers, the indigenous people did some pretty terrible things too. While we have accepted the Mayan people of Central America to be largely peaceful society recent findings suggest otherwise.There is significant evidence of brutal warfare for resources and control. Human sacrifice, while originally thought to be limited new evidence again suggests this practice was much more widespread even among to so called peaceful Mayan people.
From a story in the LA Times from Jan 2005 “ Using high-tech forensic tools, archeologists are proving that pre-Hispanic sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killing methods”
Again from the same LA Times story Harvard anthropologist David Stuart says “We have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas, including a Maya ceremony in which a costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim”
Another point to clarify is this romantic notion that Native Americans are environmentalists. It is also recorded that the demise of the Maya was due in part to their destruction of natural resources. In 2012 new reports were published that made it clear that the Mayans had practiced rampant deforestation in order to produce the limestone for their buildings. The loss of trees may have contributed to climate change in that area as there is evidence that shows a substantial drop in the amount of rainfall the area received.
The Aztecs were known to be more warlike than the Maya. All young men in their society were required to serve in the military. They fought many wars to expand their territory subjecting many local tribes to Aztec rule.
Under Aztec control these tribes had to pay tribute to the empire as well as supply sacrificial victims for the Aztec practice of human sacrifice. Some of these subjected tribes were more than happy to join with Cortes in attacking and defeating the Aztec empire.
I am indifferent to celebrating Columbus Day or Indigenous people’s day. I’m just grateful that I live in the United States of America. My ancestors did not come here looking for gold or treasure; they came here to survive. They were not looking to destroy anybody or anything, they just wanted to live. They were never slave owners either as they came to Canada first and then down to the St Lawrence valley.
I am not trying to defend nor vilify either group but to point out that people are people are people. Native Americans committed atrocities of their own. No matter where we come from people are more alike than different, even in the worst of human characteristics.